In addition to recognizing the importance of universal access to education, policymakers have begun to recognize the importance of having meal programs in schools. The U.N. World Food Program has put together a “State of School Feeding Worldwide Report” this year that emphasizes the need to focus attention and resources on increasing the efficiency of school meal programs.
In a sample of 169 countries, all attempted to provide a meal program in some capacity. However, some of the meal programs are highly inefficient, particularly in countries where children could benefit most from receiving food at school. In low-income developing countries, only 18% of children receive consistent meals.
38 countries have expanded their meal programs in an effort to offset child malnutrition while an additional 21 have instituted meal programs since 2000. However, there is still a long way to go with only 1 in 5 children receiving a meal at school everyday, an overwhelming percentage of whom live in developing countries.
Having effective meal programs is a key step in ending poverty. Alleviating hunger allows children to take advantage of educational programs. Meal programs in school can have a huge impact on children’s physical development, health, and mental acuity. Something as small as a meal at school everyday can lead to increased productivity later in life to help end the perpetuation of poverty and hunger.
Key Facts from the State of School Feeding Worldwide Report:
- Roughly 1 in 5 children receive a meal at school every day.
- For every $1 spent on food programs at least $3 is received in economic benefit.
- School meal programs are least prevalent in the poorest countries.
- In some developing countries meal programs are more expensive than the cost of education.
- The cost of meal programs varies greatly from country to country from as little as $56 per year up to $370 per year.
- Assistance funding is indispensable – it accounts for 83% of investment in meal programs in low-income countries.
- Meal programs are a key step in reducing poverty. Removing hunger allows a child to take advantage of educational opportunities.
– Zoë Meroney